The dreaded question. There was a time when only the Queen or some visiting dignitary would ask such a question, and it was advisable to have a short, pithy answer before boredom set in.
Nowadays, with business networking proliferating (a new group seems to spring up weekly), it’s a question you have to answer on a regular basis. And I’m sure you’ve all got your elevator pitch perfectly honed for every eventuality.
If you’re anything like me, this masterpiece of succinctness varies according to the audience, occasion and indeed my own mood. It’s easy enough if you’ve got a simple job description. My brother once replied to the same question from a friend of mine with a laconic, “I sell stainless steel.” “Gosh,” she said, “That’s a bit of a conversation stopper, isn’t it?”
However, if what you do is a bit more complicated, with several variations on a theme, a bit more nuanced, as they say, finding the right form of words can be a bit hit and miss.
Imagine my delight, therefore, when one of my Australian colleagues sent through an e-mail that encapsulates perfectly what we (I) do in our (my) role as business coach/mentor/advisor/consultant/Non-exec Director – the shorthand I usually resort to when time is at a tight premium.
So I beg your indulgence: most of the rest of this missive is someone else’s writing, not mine. But since it summarises what I do so precisely, I couldn’t resist committing to (digital) paper as a permanent record.
Now all you have to do is work out a similar scenario for your own ‘offering’.
As an Infinite Group franchisee, creating an understanding of how we differ from other advisors and consultants can be a bit of a challenge, unless there’s plenty of time for a long, full demonstration of how we work. But here is a wonderfully accurate summary from Down Under (for which much thanks) which does the job in under 400 words.
“I hadn’t ever had a formal board before, and my father was experienced as a chairman of public companies.
“So as CEO I decided the other founders and I, who were the directors, should meet quarterly, with my father chairing the lot of us. Unsurprisingly, this was spectacular unsuccessful. We didn’t know what we wanted to achieve and my father’s experience was with mature large businesses only, and very much focused on risk mitigation.
“It’s disappointing for me to realise that since I was around 25, I have continuously been a director of a variety of small businesses, but up until recently didn’t have a clearer idea of what the Board should do for small business other than the general statement, ‘help it grow’. Therefore, there was relief and excitement at last Thursday’s Churchill Club meeting, after a comment was made by a prominent CEO, that really “clicked” for me.
“Forget accountants, marketers and lawyers: you can buy their services as you need. Forget industry doyens and professional directors: they are unlikely to be anything more than a distraction to a small growing business. What you want as a small business is additional directors that can help you with one or more of the following four tasks: 1. Grow revenues.
2. Raise capital.
3. Get the right people involved.
4. Exit the business.
“If they can’t help you with one of the above tasks through their existing networks and assets, they’re just wasting your time.
“Looking then at what you want from these potential directors, it’s pretty easy to then decide what their KPI’s should be (the outcome), how you want to remunerate them (fee for time, equity for success), and how long their tenure should be (until the job is done). It also makes it a lot easier to find them, because you now know exactly what you are looking for (people with large, useful networks and/or assets the business needs).
“So despite the fact my father was a great Chairman, he was completely misplaced in a small business that didn’t know what it wanted. A waste of both his time and mine. ”
So now you know.
As an introduction to the above, we run a complimentary “Strategy Session” which clarifies in little over an hour the core issues which confront you and your business, and to help you see the wood for the trees.
Like to book one (whether or not you’re ever likely to become a client)? I’d be more than happy to start you off on your ‘voyage of discovery’.
David Croydon: 01844 238692 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org